Andersonville


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"'Gentlemen, we have here four silver watches and several hundred dollars
in Confederate money and greenbacks, all of which we now offer you, if
you will but allow us to proceed on our journey, we taking our own
chances in the future.'"

This proposition, to my great surprise, was refused. I thought then that
possibly I had been a little indiscreet in exposing our valuables, but in
this I was mistaken, for we had, indeed, fallen into the hands of
gentlemen, whose zeal for the Lost Cause was greater than that for
obtaining worldly wealth, and who not only refused the bribe, but took us
to a well-furnished and well-supplied farm house close by, gave us an
excellent breakfast, allowing us to sit at the table in a beautiful
dining-room, with a lady at the head, filled our haversacks with good,
wholesome food, and allowed us to keep our property, with an admonition
to be careful how we showed it again. We were then put into a wagon and
taken to Hamilton, a small town, the county seat of Hamilton County,
Georgia, and placed in jail, where we remained for two days and nights--
fearing, always, that the jail would be burned over our heads, as we
heard frequent threats of that nature, by the mob on the streets.
But the same kind Providence that had heretofore watched over us, seemed
not to have deserted us in this trouble.

One of the days we were confined at this place was Sunday, and some kind-
hearted lady or ladies (I only wish I knew their names, as well as those
of the gentlemen who had us first in charge, so that I could chronicle
them with honor here) taking compassion upon our forlorn condition, sent
us a splendid dinner on a very large china platter. Whether it was done
intentionally or not, we never learned, but it was a fact, however, that
there was not a knife, fork or spoon upon the dish, and no table to set
it upon. It was placed on the floor, around which we soon gathered, and,
with grateful hearts, we "got away" with it all, in an incredibly short
space of time, while many men and boys looked on, enjoying our ludicrous
attitudes and manners.

From here we were taken to Columbus, Ga., and again placed in jail, and
in the charge of Confederate soldiers. We could easily see that we were
gradually getting into hot water again, and that, ere many days, we would
have to resume our old habits in prison. Our only hope now was that we
would not be returned to Andersonville, knowing well that if we got back
into the clutches of Wirz our chances for life would be slim indeed.
From Columbus we were sent by rail to Macon, where we were placed in a
prison somewhat similar to Andersonville, but of nothing like its
pretensions to security. I soon learned that it was only used as a kind
of reception place for the prisoners who were captured in small squads,
and when they numbered two or three hundred, they would be shipped to
Andersonville, or some other place of greater dimensions and strength.
What became of the other boys who were with me, after we got to Macon,
I do not know, for I lost sight of them there. The very next day after
our arrival, there were shipped to Andersonville from this prison between
two and three hundred men. I was called on to go with the crowd, but
having had a sufficient experience of the hospitality of that hotel,
I concluded to play "old soldier," so I became too sick to travel.
In this way I escaped being sent off four different times.

Meanwhile, quite a large number of commissioned officers had been sent up
from Charleston to be exchanged at Rough and Ready. With them were about
forty more than the cartel called for, and they were left at Macon for
ten days or two weeks. Among these officers were several of my
acquaintance, one being Lieut. Huntly of our regiment (I am not quite
sure that I am right in the name of this officer, but I think I am),
through whose influence I was allowed to go outside with them on parole.
It was while enjoying this parole that I got more familiarly acquainted
with Captain Hurtell, or Hurtrell, who was in command of the prison at
Macon, and to his honor, I here assert, that he was the only gentleman
and the only officer that had the least humane feeling in his breast,
who ever had charge of me while a prisoner of war after we were taken out
of the hands of our original captors at Jonesville, Va.

It now became very evident that the Rebels were moving the prisoners from
Andersonville and elsewhere, so as to place them beyond the reach of
Sherman and Stoneman. At my present place of confinement the fear of our
recapture had also taken possession of the Rebel authorities, so the
prisoners were sent off in much smaller squads than formerly, frequently
not more than ten or fifteen in a gang, whereas, before, they never
thought of dispatching less than two or three hundred together.
I acknowledge that I began to get very uneasy, fearful that the "old
soldier" dodge would not be much longer successful, and I would be forced
back to my old haunts. It so happened, however, that I managed to make
it serve me, by getting detailed in the prison hospital as nurse, so that
I was enabled to play another "dodge" upon the Rebel officers. At first,
when the Sergeant would come around to find out who were able to walk,
with assistance, to the depot, I was shaking with a chill, which,
according to my representation, had not abated in the least for several
hours. My teeth were actually chattering at the time, for I had learned
how to make them do so. I was passed. The next day the orders for
removal were more stringent than had yet been issued, stating that all
who could stand it to be removed on stretchers must go. I concluded at
once that I was gone, so as soon as I learned how matters were, I got out
from under my dirty blanket, stood up and found I was able to walk, to my
great astonishment, of course. An officer came early in the morning to
muster us into ranks preparatory for removal. I fell in with the rest.
We were marched out and around to the gate of the prison.

Now, it so happened that just as we neared the gate of the prison, the
prisoners were being marched from the Stockade. The officer in charge of
us--we numbering possibly about ten--undertook to place us at the head of
the column coming out, but the guard in charge of that squad refused to
let him do so. We were then ordered to stand at one side with no guard
over us but the officer who had brought us from the Hospital.

Taking this in at a glance, I concluded that now was my chance to make my
second attempt to escape. I stepped behind the gate office (a small
frame building with only one room), which was not more than six feet from
me, and as luck (or Providence) would have it, the negro man whose duty
it was, as I knew, to wait on and take care of this office, and who had
taken quite a liking for me, was standing at the back door. I winked at
him and threw him my blanket and the cup, at the same time telling him in
a whisper to hide them away for me until he heard from me again. With a
grin and a nod, he accepted the trust, and I started down along the walls
of the Stockade alone. In order to make this more plain, and to show
what a risk I was running at the time, I will state that between the
Stockade and a brick wall, fully as high as the Stockade fence that was
parallel with it, throughout its entire length on that side, there was a
space of not more than thirty feet. On the outside of this Stockade was
a platform, built for the guards to walk on, sufficiently clear the top
to allow them to look inside with ease, and on this side, on the
platform, were three guards. I had traveled about fifty feet only, from
the gate office, when I heard the command to "Halt!" I did so, of course.

"Where are you going, you d---d Yank?" said the guard.

"Going after my clothes, that are over there in the wash," pointing to a
small cabin just beyond the Stockade, where I happened to know that the
officers had their washing done.

"Oh, yes," said he; "you are one of the Yank's that's been on, parole,
are you?"

"Yes."

"Well, hurry up, or you will get left."

The other guards heard this conversation and thinking it all right I was
allowed to pass without further trouble. I went to the cabin in
question--for I saw the last guard on the line watching me, and boldly
entered. I made a clear statement to the woman in charge of it about how
I had made my escape, and asked her to secrete me in the house until
night. I was soon convinced, however, from what she told me, as well as
from my own knowledge of how things were managed in the Confederacy, that
it would not be right for me to stay there, for if the house was searched
and I found in it, it would be the worse for her. Therefore, not wishing
to entail misery upon another, I begged her to give me something to eat,
and going to the swamp near by, succeeded in getting well without
detection.

I lay there all day, and during the time had a very severe chill and
afterwards a burning fever, so that when night came, knowing I could not
travel, I resolved to return to the cabin and spend the night, and give
myself up the next morning. There was no trouble in returning. I
learned that my fears of the morning had not been groundless, for the
guards had actually searched the house for me. The woman told them that
I had got my clothes and left the house shortly after my entrance (which
was the truth except the part about the clothes), I thanked her very
kindly
and begged to be allowed to stay in the cabin till morning, when I would
present myself at Captain H.'s office and suffer the consequences. This
she allowed me to do. I shall ever feel grateful to this woman for her
protection. She was white and her given name was "Sallie," but the other
I have forgotten.

About daylight I strolled over near the office and looked around there
until I saw the Captain take his seat at his desk. I stepped into the
door as soon as I saw that he was not occupied and saluted him "a la
militaire."

"Who are you?" he asked; "you look like a Yank."

"Yes, sir," said I, "I am called by that name since I was captured in the
Federal Army."

"Well, what are you doing here, and what is your name?"

I told him.

"Why didn't you answer to your name when it was called at the gate
yesterday, sir?"

"I never heard anyone call my name." Where were you?"

"I ran away down into the swamp."

"Were you re-captured and brought back?"

"No, sir, I came back of my own accord."

"What do you mean by this evasion?"

"I am not trying to evade, sir, or I might not have been here now. The
truth is, Captain, I have been in many prisons since my capture, and have
been treated very badly in all of them, until I came here."

"I then explained to him freely my escape from Andersonville, and my
subsequent re-capture, how it was that I had played "old soldier" etc.

"Now," said I, "Captain, as long as I am a prisoner of war, I wish to
stay with you, or under your command. This is my reason for running away
yesterday, when I felt confident that if I did not do so I would be
returned under Wirz's command, and, if I had been so returned, I would
have killed myself rather than submit to the untold tortures which he
would have put me to, for having the audacity to attempt an escape from
him."

The Captain's attention was here called to some other matters in hand,
and I was sent back into the Stockade with a command very pleasantly
given, that I should stay there until ordered out, which I very
gratefully promised to do, and did. This was the last chance I ever had
to talk to Captain Hurtrell, to my great sorrow, for I had really formed
a liking for the man, notwithstanding the fact that he was a Rebel, and a
commander of prisoners.

The next day we all had to leave Macon. Whether we were able or not, the
order was imperative. Great was my joy when I learned that we were on
the way to Savannah and not to Andersonville. We traveled over the same
road, so well described in one of your articles on Andersonville, and
arrived in Savannah sometime in the afternoon of the 21st day of
November, 1864. Our squad was placed in some barracks and confined there
until the next day. I was sick at the time, so sick in fact, that I
could hardly hold my head up. Soon after, we were taken to the Florida
depot, as they told us, to be shipped to some prison in those dismal
swamps. I came near fainting when this was told to us, for I was
confident that I could not survive another siege of prison life, if it
was anything to compare to-what I had already suffered. When we arrived
at the depot, it was raining. The officer in charge of us wanted to know
what train to put us on, for there were two, if not three, trains waiting
orders to start. He was told to march us on to a certain flat car, near
by, but before giving the order he demanded a receipt for us, which the
train officer refused. We were accordingly taken back to our quarters,
which proved to be a most fortunate circumstance.

On the 23d day of November, to our great relief, we were called upon to
sign a parole preparatory to being sent down the river on the flat-boat
to our exchange ships, then lying in the harbor. When I say we, I mean
those of us that had recently come from Macon, and a few others, who had
also been fortunate in reaching Savannah in small squads. The other poor
fellows, who had already been loaded on the trains, were taken away to
Florida, and many of them never lived to return. On the 24th those of us
who had been paroled were taken on board our ships, and were once more
safely housed under that great, glorious and beautiful Star Spangled
Banner. Long may she wave.

CHAPTER LXIII.

DREARY WEATHER--THE COLD RAINS DISTRESS ALL AND KILL HUNDREDS--EXCHANGE
OF TEN THOUSAND SICK--CAPTAIN BOWES TURNS A PRETTY, BUT NOT VERY HONEST,
PENNY.

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